US Championship 2014: retrospect in pictures

by ChessBase
6/9/2014 – Remember the drama of the US Championship? That was over two weeks ago, and we reported extensively on the most exciting of events. The pictures were taken by Lennart Ootes, a Dutch sensor board operator who says of himself: "I don't regard myself as a serious photographer." But we were deeply impressed and now present a selection of his best pictures. Sit back and enjoy.

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How things have changed in the last decade

Exactly ten years ago, on June 9th, 2004, we published a report on a match between the then reigning women's world champion Zhu Chen and Fritz 8, running on the Unisplendour Star laptop, powered by an AMD 64 bit 3400+ CPU and 2 GB RAM. Fritz won, but that is not the purpose of us remembering the event.

What we want to show you is the quality of pictures we were publishing at the time. Mind you, the ChessBase news page was pioneering illustrated chess reporting, obtaining pictures from all over the world – in this case from China's prestigious Tsinghua University – to liven up the stories. The above is an example of an action picture we used from the match – there are plenty more like it still up on the official web site.

But that was not it. We also published "high-resolution" portraits of the actors, which brought us effusive praise and appreciation from our readers.

That was ten years ago, and my, how things have changed. In recent tournaments we have received pictures from amateur and professional photographers, equipped with the latest digital SLR cameras. Even after reducing the original >20 megapixel images to the size we use on our newspage, the pictures remain stunning. All to often, though, the artists – what else can you call them – get little more recognition than a right justified byline at the bottom of the report. For that reason we have started doing special portraits of photographers, like the following recent examples:

Retrospect: Khanty-Mansiysk Women's Grand Prix

4/25/2014 – The event ended on Monday – we reported extensively on it. The closing ceremony followed, and currently there is a Women's Rapid + Blitz running in Shamkir, on which we will report shortly. For today we bring you a special pictorial by adventure photographer Nikolai Bochkarev, who supplied us with photos during the Grand Prix: extraordinary images by a talented professional.

Candidates Khanty-Mansiysk – a pictorial retrospect

4/4/2014 – We reported extensively on the recently concluded Candidates Tournament, with summaries of all games, GM analysis and videos, and a large number of pictures. They were attributed to "the official web site", and a substantial number came from our regular, FIDE press officer WGM Anastasiya Karlovich. But there were many wonderful images by a talented new photographer, Kirill Merkuriev.

We should also mention our "regulars", like WGMs Anastasiya Karlovich, Anna Burtasova and Maria Emelianova, who supply similarly high-grade and well-framed pictures from tournaments all over the world.

Today we bring you a selection of pictures by another extremely proficient amateur photographer, who did the visual documentation of the recent US Championships 2014 in Saint Louis.

For the sixth consecutive year, the best chess players in the U.S. gathered in Saint Louis to fight for the title of U.S. Champion and U.S. Women's Champion. GM Gata Kamsky was defending his title while recently anointed grandmaster Irina Krush was looking for her sixth title at the 2014 U.S. Women's Championship. The events were held simultaneously from May 7 through May 20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL). All games were broadcast live and discussed by the powerful commentary team of GMs Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley on the official web site.

Photo retrospective of the

By Lennart Ootes

I'm a creative chess professional, who has been working full time in the chess scene for about one and a half year now. My goal is to improve the quality of tournament coverage and to find new ways to attract a broader audience to our game. We still can learn a lot from other sports in that respect. I wish more young chess enthusiasts with interesting ideas would like to combine forces to bring chess to a more professional level.

I have a wide interest and have quite some knowledge and experience with DGT boards (I give seminars on behalf of DGT), building and designing websites, producing live video streaming, doing video interviews, photography, writing reports, social media and organizing chess tournaments. In the past five months I've worked for tournaments in Wijk aan Zee, Gibraltar, Reykjavik, Amsterdam and Saint Louis.

I was born 25 years ago in Hoorn, probably the Vegetarian Chess Capital of the world, as at least seven other vegetarian chess players rated 2100+ were born there, including GM Reinderman, IM Goudriaan and my brother Lars. My own chess rating is 2150.

Although my photos are being presented in this special article, I don't regard myself as a serious photographer. During the US Chess Championships I could spend only about fifteen minutes a day with my camera in the playing hall, as my main task was to operate the DGT boards. In this sequence of photos I want to show how tense the sport of chess can be.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is situated in the very nice
Central West End. The Chess Club is on the right side.

The largest chess piece in the World, in front of the World
Chess Hall of Fame, where the opening ceremony took place

Number 1 and 2 seeds Kamsky and Gareev were paired in the first round. I just missed the shot where both players were yawing, which, according to a recent study might be a sign of their brain overheating.

Daniel Naroditsky showing his own version of the "I-am-not-interested face",
which is popularized by Magnus Carlsen

Pondering his next move in a French Tarrasch, with which Aleksandr Lenderman beat
Alejandro Ramirez in a 62-mover in round three

How to concentrate and get the next move right: Sam Shankland vs Ray Robson in round two...

... and, after a slow start, the ultimate winner of the tournament Gata Kamsky

It's all about confidence. Alisa Melekhina just before the start
of the game she drew against Irina Krush with black.

Viktorija Ni in her round five game against Katerina Nemcova – a hard-fought draw in 50 moves

Akobian, just after winning his fourth consecutive game, increasing his lead to a full point

Sam Shankland gained a lot of self-confidence by observing his opponent Akobian suffering

Akobian ponders his mistakes after a loss. Please note his red ear.

Rex Sinquefield, the money man, watched the live video streaming almost all the time.
Here he finds the solution to a Fischer puzzle.

Irina Krush in a must-win situation. She promoted her pawn soon after.

Kamsky in a must-win situation against Friedel. He could only stay in the title race if
Lenderman and Akobian would draw their game.

Lenderman (right) waiting for Akobian to make a move.

Viktorija Ni fought hard to hold Krush to a draw in the final round

The armageddon game between Lenderman and Akobian

Chess fans and their varied headgear

Big smiles during the game. The position was repeated for the first time and Lenderman just offered a draw, but soon realized draw offers are not usual in armageddon games. Akobian mated Lenderman a few moves later.

When does the final start? Kamsky observes his future opponent and realizes that
both players were quite nervous. Experience counts.

Tatev Abrahamyan's purple hair and determined eyes

A draw in the first rapid game. Akobian realizes he has to hold
Kamsky with black in the next game.

The decider: Irina won the first game of the tiebreak final

Being a pawn down in a must-win situation, Tatev realizes she will not become
the new US Champion. Krush stayed focused till the end.

Kamsky executes his final championship move, 38.Rd8+, showing no emotions at all

Their great performances were not enough: second place for Tatev and Var


The games were broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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